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Wisconsin's uninstructed movement plans to keep pushing for an end to the war in Gaza


A little over 8% of voters in Wisconsin's Democratic presidential primary chose uninstructed on their ballot back in April, effectively not choosing a candidate, not choosing Joe Biden - part of a movement to protest President Biden's handling of the war in Gaza. While these voters did not have a strong enough showing in Wisconsin to gain delegates to the Democratic Convention, activists think they can still keep the pressure on. Chuck Quirmbach of our member station WUWM in Milwaukee reports.

CHUCK QUIRMBACH, BYLINE: Biden easily won April's Democratic presidential primary in Wisconsin, yet activists say his campaign shouldn't discount the more than 48,000 people who voted uninstructed. That figure is more than double the amount by which Biden defeated former President Donald Trump four years ago in this key battleground state. And Wisconsin polls show another close contest this year. This week, delegates to Wisconsin's state Democratic Party Convention in Milwaukee passed a resolution calling for an immediate unconditional cease-fire in Gaza. For the past several months, the Biden administration has been working on a plan that would start with a six-week cease-fire. But state convention delegate and uninstructed organizer Heba Mohammad says the president still isn't doing enough to bring about a permanent end to fighting.

HEBA MOHAMMAD: And big picture, we're going to continue to use every means at our disposal to put pressure on Biden. This is just one. We're working from the inside within the Democratic Party.

QUIRMBACH: The pro-Palestinian effort has some Wisconsin Democrats, like Congresswoman Gwen Moore, acknowledging protesters' right to speak out.


GWEN MOORE: Every generation is responsible for creating a better world. And these young people are part of our Democratic coalition that we must maintain.

QUIRMBACH: However, Moore refuses to abandon Biden and says every vote he loses is a vote for Trump. Marcy Hotz, a member of the Wisconsin Democrats' Jewish Caucus, says she's disappointed the cease-fire resolution, and another one that passed condemning antisemitism, make no mention of the deadly Hamas attacks on Israel last October 7, nor do they mention the at least 240 hostages taken by Hamas and other militant groups. Hotz adds another disappointment for her would be a Trump victory.

MARCY HOTZ: You know, if we get Trump because they're not voting for Biden, they deserve what they get, but the rest of the country doesn't.

QUIRMBACH: The Wisconsin Republican Party criticized the Democratic Convention votes, saying delegates turned a, quote, "blind eye to the atrocities of Hamas and the hostages still held prisoner."

For NPR News, I'm Chuck Quirmbach in Milwaukee. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Chuck Quirmbach
Chuck Quirmbach joined WUWM in August, 2018, as Innovation Reporter, covering developments in science, health and business.